Week 3: The Colonial Experience

This week we are looking at the Colonial experience through Cast Paintings, the story of Luitenent Nun, peer videos and lecture.

I found the Memoir of Catalina de Eraus very interesting. I had never heard of Catalina nor of another female colonizer. Her journey from a convent, to multiple cities in Spain, to crossing the seas to the “New World” is an epic one that i feel i should have learned about a long time ago.  What I found particularly interesting was the churches acceptance of her choices. Thinking about it in a modern context, where it seems that many religious groups condem peoples gender fluidity, it amazes me that the catholic church itself, at least to a certain extent, was so open do the idea of a female soldier. Furthermore, although her actions as a colonizer  are questionable at the least, Catalina seems to have achieved a lot throughout her life.

The video outlining Catalinas story was also good as it went further in-depth then the portion of the story we had for readings this week(I,e., her marriage).  It also touched on the Cast paintings were have started to learn about.  One random question I have about the Cast paintings is about their value. The reading by Susan Smith says that their price is believed to have been low enough for the paintings to not have been exclusively owned by the very rich, yet the video in this weeks sylybus claims that artist exploited cast paintings to make exorbitant profits.

The Casta paintings are also very interesting and something I have never heard of. Although i have learned a little bit about the hierarchical structures of colonial society it is interesting how that was translated in to art and almost falsified to promote a healthier image of their colonies and colonial life. For example, Susan Smith’s reading states that Mestizos were often portrayed as food vendors, or Mulattos as coachmen. In reality, from what iv’e learned, indigenous people were at the very bottom of colonial society as even slaves had “value” since they had to be bought( thus their children had value as well) yet indigenous people were seen as soulless non-humans only good for free labour. Often times they were worked to death in the fields or sent to die in the mines. In fact, as was said in class last week, it was not until bartolome de las casas fought with the church and state that indigenous people were finally considered human.

Another point that struck me was the  critique of the cast paintings, not on grounds of discrimination or anything of the sort, but for the fear that the creole image would be tainted, painting a picture of inferiority to the peninsulares. It is reasonable to think that any creole lived a much better life then a mestizo or mulatto. this also makes me think about the question posed last week asking to what degree Columbus could be blamed. The fact that these people were more concerned about their image then atrocities being committed around them leads me to believe that Columbus’s actions were not much different then the actions of many people who followed him.  Their must of being some prevailing mentality in these times that allowed people to believe no unjustness was being done. Perhaps influenced by religious doctrines that allowed them to see themselves and their fellow colonizers as innately superior. perhaps even as far as to see themselves as civilizers?


the question id like to pose this week is, did the glorified nature of the cast paintings have any effect on peoples image of the colonies in the old world. is it possible that if the reality of life for the colonized had reached the old world something might have been done sooner to rectify the the basically genocidal reality.

2 thoughts on “Week 3: The Colonial Experience

  1. XimenaDiazLopez

    I had similar thoughts to yours when I read about Catalina and the Catholic church. I was also very surprised to see how easily they seemed to have accepted her. In my opinion, this goes to show how gender fluidity can be easily incorporated into society–especially considering how hard it should have been for her. As for your last question, I believe that even if the news had been reached earlier it would have been hard to change the outcomes. I believe that most Europeans would have viewed themselves as greater than the Indigenous cultures and would have not had much of an impact on the outcomes. Besides that the people that were really in control were the monarchs, and I believe it would have been unlikely they do anything.

  2. Poole Katherine

    I find your question very interesting and your comments about the fact that the creole wanted to be considered or painted in a same way as the Peninsulares. I think this is dealt with in the years to come. Especially because the creole get to a certain point in which they want to be considered the same as the Peninsulares and that is why they start seeking independence. So certainly, the Casta Paintings had further political/social/economic consequences than it was expected simply because they dealt with the social structure of a ‘new world’ composed of so many social and ethnic classes and in a certain way they helped place certain people in certain groups.


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